Canelo Alvarez relinquished his middleweight championship on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean a fight against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is any less likely to happen. After failing to meet the WBC-mandated deadline to agree to a title unification bout, Alvarez reiterated that he still plans to take on the world’s top 160-pound boxer.
Golovkin had been the mandatory challenger to Alvarez’s title, already holding two other middleweight championships. Because Alvarez has yet to officially agree to face Golovkin, the knockout artist from Kazakhstan has been named the new WBC titleholder.
“After much consideration, today, I instructed my team at Golden Boy Promotions to continue negotiating a fight with Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and to finalize a deal as quickly as possible. I also informed the WBC that I will vacate its title,” Alvarez said in a statement.
“For the entirety of my career, I have taken the fights that no one wanted because I fear no man. Never has that been more true than today. I will fight ‘GGG,’ and I will beat ‘GGG’ but I will not be forced into the ring by artificial deadlines.
“I am hopeful that by putting aside this ticking clock, the two teams can now negotiate this fight, and ‘GGG’ and I can get in the ring as soon as possible and give the fans the fight they want to see.”
It’s certainly not anywhere close to the level of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, but a fight between Golovkin and Alvarez would generate more interest than any other matchup. Alvarez is the biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport, now that Mayweather and Pacquiao claim to be retired, and Golovkin is viewed by many as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
Knocking out Dominic Wade in the second round of their April 23 fight, Golovkin is still in search of a big-name opponent willing to step in the ring with him. Alvarez, who prides himself of his willingness to face top competition, has been adamant that he wants his shot against Golovkin. Most boxing experts expect Golovkin to be the favorite.
A possible fight could happen as early as September. Golovkin isn’t getting any younger at 34 years old, and the boxers have separated themselves as the top middleweights in the world. But there is speculation that Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya wants to delay it until 2017, allowing Alvarez to headline one more PPV before suffering a potential loss to Golovkin.
Even if Alvarez is willing to face Golovkin, there are several details that need to be ironed out before an agreement can be made. Alvarez is the bigger PPV draw and would require a larger split of the revenue. A location and exact date also needs to be agreed upon.
Immediately after Alvarez beat Amir Khan on May 7, Alvarez invited Golovkin into the ring to prove that he’s not afraid of the middleweight that has 21 straight knockouts. In the following days, the two sides reportedly discussed details about a potential fight.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign that the fight will happen is that weight issues no longer seem to be under dispute. In the months leading up to his bout against Khan, Alvarez was steadfast in his desire to only face Golovkin at 155 pounds. Despite holding the middleweight title, Alvarez has fought at a catchweight of 155 pounds five straight times.
But his tune changed after he knocked out Khan in the sixth round, and he seems to have kept his word.
"It (weight) never came into play," Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, who represents Golovkin, told ESPN.com regarding his discussions with Golden Boy Promotions. "It was about the financial aspects of the fight, the location. It wasn't really in-depth yet, but weight didn't come up. It wasn't a stumbling block."
The fight could be set for as soon as Sept. 17, possibly taking place at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Alvarez is no stranger to fighting at stadiums in Texas, having knocked out James Kirkland in front of more than 31,000 fans at Houston’s Minute Maid Park a year ago.
"I'm still 100 percent confident that the fight will happen," Loeffler said. "Canelo is clearly the most marketable fighter in the sport of boxing, and that's not going to change our negotiating position, that he doesn't have the title. We will do what we can to make the fight in his next fight."